There's Nothing Wrong With a Cute Pickup Truck

All A100 images: Craigslist
All A100 images: Craigslist

I once heard whisperings around the halls of Chrysler’s technical center that then-CEO Sergio Marchionne had shut down an early “DT” Ram design (that’s the current generation truck) because it was too “dainty.” I’m not sure how true this is, but it does lead me to the question: What’s wrong with dainty? Just look at this cute little Dodge A100 for sale on Craigslist—it’s pickup truck perfection.

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If you look at the pickup truck landscape today, you’ll see that it’s filled with burly machines with big fender flares, oversize tires, enormous, squared-off grilles, and just generally imposing, intimidating sheetmetal.

This wasn’t always the case in the truck world (and still isn’t in markets outside of North America), with the most recent “cute” truck being probably the old Ford Ranger, which left this world in 2011 and was replaced recently by the handsome but decidedly not-cute new Ranger. But even the old Ranger was was a bit aggressive compared to some old trucks.

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Just look at the Jeep Forward Control “FC-150" below. It’s as cute as a puppy, but a total workhorse that I bet nobody would be embarrassed to drive.

Image: Willys Overland via Oldcarmanualproject
Image: Willys Overland via Oldcarmanualproject

The same goes for the Honda Acty below. Just look at how it compares to a Ram 2500. The Acty will haul your stuff like a loyal puppy, while the truck on the left will haul a lot more stuff, but may also want to eat you. And that’s weird if you think about it. Being eaten by a pickup isn’t a great way to go.

Illustration for article titled Theres Nothing Wrong With a Cute Pickup Truck
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And then there’s the vehicle that inspired this article in the first place, the Dodge A100 pickup for sale on my local Craigslist for $5,500 (or best offer).

Illustration for article titled Theres Nothing Wrong With a Cute Pickup Truck
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It is possibly the loveliest pickup I’ve ever seen, with a cab shaped like a trapezoid, beautiful body lines that look like cylinders running down the side of the truck, an upright bed-mounted spare, and a relatively tiny set of tires.

Illustration for article titled Theres Nothing Wrong With a Cute Pickup Truck
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Up front, two opposed wiper arms keep clean the two flat panes of glass making up the windshield. Down below, a set of round lights gleam, surrounded by giant donut-shaped chrome bezels. In the center are flat air intakes that sort of make the truck look kind of like a fish. A cute fish, like a bluegill.

Even out back, the truck is far from macho. It’s got two round taillights and what looks like a set of small reverse lights right near the rounded-out bed corners. The lights flank a nice tailgate stamped with a “Dodge” font that would totally not work at all in a haunted house flier, and below there’s a simple, skinny white bumper.

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Illustration for article titled Theres Nothing Wrong With a Cute Pickup Truck

More important than the fact that cute trucks look good is the fact that cute pickups aren’t really any less “rugged” than aggressive-looking ones; as with most things in life—it all comes down to performance.

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Under the hood of the Dodge A100 pickup came a number of engine options, including a 101 horsepower 170 cubic-inch (2.8-liter) slant six, a 140 horsepower 225 cubic-inch (3.7-liter) slant-six, and 174 horsepower 273 cubic-inch (4.5-liter) V8. And later models came with a 210 horsepower 318 cubic-inch (5.2-liter) V8.

The A100 may look cute on the outside, but it packed some beefy motors in that engine bay between the driver and passenger seat.

Plus, the Dodge “Little Red Wagon” drag machine built in the mid-1960s proves that this cute little machine has lots of mod-potential. Just watch the enormous 426 V8 hanging out of the back of the cab rocket that little machine down the drag-strip.

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The A100 is actually a beast in cute clothing, and so is the Jeep FC-150 for that matter. And that’s a great thing, so here’s to hoping that when the compact truck wars finally do hit U.S. shores, at least one automaker isn’t afraid to eschew the macho, burly pickup truck trend. Because the world needs more trucks like this incredible red Dodge.

Sr. Technical Editor, Jalopnik. Always interested in hearing from auto engineers—email me. Cars: Willys CJ-2A ('48), Jeep J10 ('85), Jeep Cherokee ('79, '91, '92, '00), Jeep Grand Cherokee 5spd ('94).

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DISCUSSION

An awesome truck, but it looks like rust held together by paint to me. Still tempted, not gonna lie.